Saturday, May 30, 2020

How To Install HBO Max on a Fire Stick, Right Now

source: The Android Soul

Many people who use Amazon Fire sticks on their TVs might also have--or want to have--a subscription to HBO Max. Unfortunately, there is a contract dispute between Amazon and Warner Media (AT&T) about revenue sharing. So HBO Max is not yet available on the Fire stick menu. 

But there is an elegant hack that will allow HBO Max subscribers to watch content on their TVs (smartphones and PCs are not a problem, since there is no Amazon inserted into the value chain). 

Watch this video and follow the directions to install HBO Max on an Amazon Fire stick.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Is Work From Home the Future for Many or Most Workers?

Is work from home the wave of the future; a work pattern that will be radically more common and permanent for most knowledge workers?  Not everybody thinks so. 

“The current increase in productivity may be an illusion,” say Jason Gold, managing director and Alec Stapp, director of technology policy at the Progressive Policy Institute. 

Right now, “employees are leveraging the relationships, routines, and habits they developed from interacting with coworkers in person on a daily basis, says PPI. “Over time, however, as workers begin drawing down on this social and organizational capital — culture, structure, and processes — we may find that they become less productive as collegial networks and opportunities to acquire new skills erode.”

“As employees switch jobs, problems linked to the withering of collegial relationships may start to seem more obvious,” says PPI. 

The other issue is whether remote work affects the development of professional networks that aid advancement in a company or industry. Some surveys suggest employees have that concern. So actual productivity or ability to collaborate might not be the whole issue. 

Some employees might rightly believe that being “out of sight means being out of mind,” even if most workers who can do so believe work from home is a productivity booster

source: Binfire

“The future will likely feature a robust and variable mix of telework and office work,” the authors say. “Companies that leap prematurely to the conclusion that their ability to prosper during the shutdown proves that the “office” is obsolete risk burning through their organizational capital, just as their rivals start to build it back up.”

If Not Video, What?

Many critics say AT&T’s move into video content ownership and subscriptions has been a big problem. Execution issues might be an issue, but there also is much evidence that revenue growth in the fixed networks business is coming almost exclusively from video subscription services. 

In 2017, for example, video subscription services represented about 27 percent of total telecom service provider revenues, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Telephony has made up a decreasing share of the wired industry’s revenues in recent years,” BLS says. “In 2017, this figure was 11.8 percent of industry revenues.”

Internet access services contributed 28 percent.

source: BLS

Put another way, even as observers universally say internet access is the revenue driver for cable and telco fixed services, video in 2017 was producing almost as much revenue as did broadband. 

Some would call video services a distraction, or perhaps only poorly executed. But for an entity with high needs for free cash flow, a revenue generator producing nearly as much revenue as does broadband is nothing to take lightly, especially when voice services are such a small part of the revenue picture.

Nobody can seemingly name a viable and sizable substitute revenue source than subscription video, at the moment. Most of the proposed new services and revenue sources are related to the mobile network: edge computing and internet of things being the salient cited examples. 

Scale Matters: Fixed Networks Lose, Mobile Wins

Lack of customer scale now seems to correlate with lower productivity and profits for fixed network connectivity businesses, while high scale seems also to correlate with mobile network productivity and profits. 

“The difference in labor input between wired and wireless is mainly a matter of scale,” notes the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  “The extreme rapidity of the labor productivity growth in wireless suggests that technological innovations—new ways of doing things with new types of hardware and software—still play a leading role in the story.”

 “The difference in labor input between wired and wireless is mainly a matter of scale,” says BLS. 

That arguably is true in most--if not all--businesses: scale and market share matter. Profits tend to correlate with market share, for example. Market share also tends to correlate with cost structure. 

Drives to reduce operating cost and capex for new networks have been issues for a couple decades in the telecom business. Headcount reductions, tower sharing, streamlined customer service, open architecture, “do it yourself” servers and routers and open source have been tools used for that purpose, and the work continues. 

But it appears much of the easy gains have been gotten, for mobile networks, computers, communications infrastructure and semiconductors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only the mobile industry has improved its productivity since 1987. 

source: BLS

Scale matters elsewhere. In the U.S. market, fixed network revenue peaked around 2000, and has steadily fallen since then. For example, long distance minutes of use peaked in 2000. The number of U.S. landlines in service peaked about 2001. Long distance revenue peaked about 2001 as well. Most markets will follow a similar trajectory. 

But mobile revenue has grown since 2000. So scale arguably matters for profitability and productivity, not simply gross revenue. 

In the wired industry, output peaked in 2000. “The wired industry actually produced less output in 2018 than it did in 2000,” the BLS says. “Conversely, output for the wireless industry has continued to multiply, growing at an average annual rate of 13.1 percent since 2000.”

Open source and open architectures have played a role in reducing capex and opex, and continue to do so. The Open-RAN Alliance, GSMA, Telecom Infra Project and others are working to create open standards and interoperability of mobile radio access networks, core networks and other key infrastructure. That, in turn, is expected to lead to lower RAN costs. 

But scale does matter most. The basic problem for a fixed network provider is stranded assets, caused by lost market share taken by competitors, product substitution that shrinks demand for fixed access. The installed base of assets remains the same, but declining subscriptions and revenue mean the actual cost per customer keeps going up. 

At the same time, though prices have not fallen consistently for all products, the general trend is lower average revenue per account, or at least lower revenue per unit sold. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

IoT Will Drive More Private WAN Networking

Internet of things deployments will likely rely on private networks rather than the public internet for connectivity, a study conducted by Omdia suggests. That should come as no surprise, if IoT deployment volumes grow as much as some expect. 

source: IoT Analytics

The study included 200 enterprise executives in North America and Europe in several vertical industries already using or in the process of deploying IoT, including financial services, retail, manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality. 

About 46 percent of respondents already use private networks and 40 percent are evaluating private networks to support their IoT deployments. That might tend to be important if private 4G and 5G networks operated by enterprises prove to be as big as Nokia hopes. 

If an enterprise uses its own private 5G network to support mission-critical operations, why would it not use a more-secure private WAN to support those operations, as enteprises now use private WANs?

source: Syniverse

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Much Small Business Spending is Essentially Similar to Consumer Spending

There’s a reason tier-one service providers often report small business revenue in a “mass market” category with consumer accounts. Very-small businesses tend to buy consumer connectivity products, with buying processes very similar to that of consumers. Some surveys of small business suggest just 10 percent of such firms generate $500,000 or more of annual income.

source: Business Knowhow

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were about 7.6 million employer firms (businesses with employees) operating in the United States in 2017. Of those businesses, 89 percent have fewer than 20 employees.

According to statistics from the US Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, 81 percent of small businesses are classified as nonemployers because they have no employees. 

Possibly 40 percent of SMBs had annual revenue less than $100,000 in 2013, according to Parks Associates. Perhaps another 30 percent had annual revenue of less than $500,000. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, perhaps 26 percent of U.S. small businesses generated more than $1 million in annual revenue. 

source: U.S. Census Bureau

source: Parks Associates

One often hears rather big numbers where it comes to the number of SMBs. But a huge percentage of total businesses actually are very small, home-based businesses with no employees. 

source: the kickassentrepreneur

Average small business owner salaries were about $66,000 annually, according to PayScale, which gives you some idea of likely profits from many small businesses.  

The point is that much small business connectivity spending is not going to be that different from consumer accounts.

Verizon Says Calling and Text Messaging Already Have Returned to Pre-Covid Levels

Verizon reports that call volumes as well as text messaging are “returning to normal levels,” while physical mobility also is increasing. That last statistic is evidence that lockdown and stay-in-place rules are loosening. 

According to Verizon’s handoff metrics, 44 states have had increases in mobility over the last two weeks and 36 percent of states have surpassed their pre-COVID mobility levels, Verizon says. Verizon’s stats also show these trends have been in place since at least the end of April. 

Verizon’s April 29 report on usage indicated that “most categories of usage are starting to decline, with some falling significantly below peak levels.” Downloads were down five percent, week to week, and have dropped about 55 percent from the peak infection period. Gaming dropped 10 percent week over week and 45 percent from the point of peak infection. 

“Customers have placed 14 percent fewer wireless calls from the peak of COVID, while calling and wireless calls are now three percent shorter in duration,” Verizon said. 

On the other hand, we need to be careful about attributing literally every social phenomenon to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mobility normally increases in the spring, in any case. “In the spring, we often see an increase in handoffs as people move around more and volume on our networks increases over what we see in the winter,” said Verizon Chief Technology Officer Kyle Malady.  

Still, gaming is up 82 percent over pre-COVID levels, virtual private network connections are up 72 percent over pre-COVID levels and use of collaboration tools are about 10 times pre-COVID levels.

Nor can we be too confident about predictions of long-term changes in customer behavior as we move further from the pandemic. Changes that already were in place pre-Covid will persist. But the magnitude of such changes, out about five years, are hard to estimate. Even past traumatic events (the Great Recession of 2008, the internet bubble burst of 2001, 9/11 attacks) have produced changes that are hard to see, over longer periods of time. 

The return of calling and text messaging behavior might be an example. We are not yet out of the lock-down, and already basic behaviors are returning to pre-Covid levels.

That is not to say permanent changes in behavior are inconceivable. We simply should not extrapolate in a linear way from our emergency behaviors.

How To Install HBO Max on a Fire Stick, Right Now

source: The Android Soul Many people who use Amazon Fire sticks on their TVs might also have--or want to have--a subscription to HBO Max. Un...